A famous slogan states that everything is bigger in Texas, and if one views its capitol building, the age-old phrase rings true. Standing a stately 309 feet (94 meters) and modeled after the United States Capitol in Washington D.C., the Texas State Capitol owns the distinction of being the nation's tallest capitol building. Designed by architect Elijah E. Myers and constructed using lustrous red granite, the capitol took more than seven years to complete. It was finished in the year 1888 at a total cost of more than three million dollars, an extravagant price even by today's standards. The perfectly landscaped grounds reflect the languid pace of life under the central Texan sun, inviting passers-by for a quiet stroll or a lazy day under a tree.
Patrons will enjoy a huge variety of activities at Zilker Park. You can check out the hike and bike trails, picnic facilities, Zilker Botanical Garden, canoe rentals, soccer fields, sand volleyball courts, riverboat rides on Town Lake, concerts, festivals and even a miniature train. The wide-open stretches of grass in this park are just minutes from the downtown area. There is plenty of room and various diversions for the kids, so you can get a suntan, take long walks by the river or just curl up with a book down by the river.
Set along the eastern banks of the restful Colorado River, Mount Bonnell's verdant headlands dominate Austin's western topography from an elevation of approximately 775 feet (236 meters) above sea level. Also known as Covert Park, the location is a stunning progression of luxuriant grasslands, scenic waterfronts, peaceful picnic spots and breathtaking vista points. Inducted into the National Register of Historic Places in the year 2015, the forelands are home to the Mount Bonnell's Indian Trail, one of the cornerstones of the American War of Independence. Legend has it that the final 99 steps to the mount's top hold enchanting qualities; if a couple climbs the mount once, they fall in love; twice, they become engaged; and three times, they are destined to be married.
As part of the Pedernales River and Hamilton Creek, this old-fashioned swimming hole is perfect for the nature lover in all of us. A shaded walk through the canyon opens to the limestone outcroppings that create a 50-foot waterfall landing in the pool. A picnic on the banks of the pool, a swim in the cool water or a quick hike through the canyon will wash away city-accumulated stress. The trail to the pool is fairly short (1/4 of a mile) but does include a series of rock steps. Good hiking shoes are recommended. Visitors with physical disabilities should call ahead to pre-arrange assistance. Parking is limited, and the pool is very popular so go early and stay late.
One of the most visited presidential libraries in the nation, Lyndon Baines Johnson Library & Museum is supplied with information regarding one of the most controversial times in United States history. Peeking inside the life of the 36th President, Lyndon Baines Johnson, the LBJ tapes provide listeners the opportunity to learn about the John F. Kennedy assassination and the Vietnam War. Along with the famous tapes, visitors can see a to-scale replica of the Oval Office, political memorabilia and more than 39 million pages of historical notes. Plan on a full day at this library and museum, but if you are a real history buff, you will barely scratch the surface of what this fantastic archive has to offer.
This museum has grown into one of the most fabulous experiences for children in Austin. Find out about the development of children from birth to adolescence, climb a "time tower," and learn about everything from dinosaurs to computers. Special programs for children and their parents are regular parts of the museum's curriculum. Take tiny tots to the 2-and-under special explore time, or learn about multimedia with your teen. With excellent specialty programs and wonderful exhibits, this is a museum the whole family can enjoy.
Republic Square in Downtown Austin is one of the city's original parks when the city was founded in the early 19th Century. There are plenty of cultural and social events held here throughout the year, including concerts, free movies and even yoga. The weekly farmers' market is also a popular attraction of this easily accessible park in Austin.
As one of the galleries of the Texas Fine Arts Association, The Contemporary's Jones Center focuses on nurturing fine art in Central Texas. This gallery brings together artists, curators, art writers, collectors and the general public to appreciate exquisite Texan artwork. TFAA is dedicated to contributing to the growth of art and art education in the state; it offers exhibitions of modern artists, seminars and panel discussions in order to achieve this goal. It can accommodate educational visits of school students and teachers. It also offers art classes for children and adults on topics such as mosaics, photography, collage, watercolor and glass painting, metal art, jewelry design, pottery and digital art.
Centrally located in downtown Austin, this museum features works that have a connection to Mexico and Latin America. Exhibits range from art to theater. The permanent collection includes artifacts and photographs relating to Mexican-American culture. Recent exhibits include photographs from the 1910 Mexican Revolution and other works by Mexican artists. Guest artists and performers tackle contemporary issues such as ethnicity, religion and politics. A small gift shop carrying books, artwork and handmade imports is located near the entrance.
The Governor's Mansion is one of the most significant landmarks in Austin. It was built in the mid 19th Century, giving it a historical status. The mansion is accentuated with elegant furnishings such as Sam Houston's bed, antiques, famous paintings and more. The Governor's Mansion was built using bricks and wood, thus giving a timeless touch to it. There are regular guided tours conducted here, although reservations are a must.
Less than a century ago this bridge served as the gateway to Austin. Originally this was a wooden pedestrian bridge, on which travelers used to pay a toll of a nickel to cross the Colorado River — and an extra nickel for your horse! In 1902, the bridge was washed away in a flood and replaced with a new bridge designed to handle automobile traffic. Since that time, the bridge has maintained its status as a substantial through way for the people of Austin. One of the most amazing sights in Austin takes place every dusk from March to early November, when 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from their roosts under the bridge.
Museum of the Weird is a locally-owned museum in the Sixth Street area of Austin. With its inventory of curios and classic horror charm, Museum of the Weird is worth a visit for those in the area. The walk-through museum doesn't take long but it's packed with the unexplained, freaky and supernatural wonders of the world. The museum has their own house acts with live weird and wonderful attractions that will definitely keep your attention. There's a gift shop that is free to enter.